Archive for June, 2010

I am stealing this (with minor a variation) from Ben House: “In [1990], I finished college. Since that time, I have been devoting my years to trying to get an education.”

This is not necessarily a poke at my undergraduate educational institution. I was not an exceptional student; I had a lot of growing up to do and I was a pretty slow learner in that. I tended to do just enough to get by-something I now despise in my own students. Additionally, a college education should not be looked at as anything other than a step in the path of a lifelong journey of and toward godliness.

I am grateful for the several professors who sparked a craving to learn. Dr. Barrett, Dr. Henson, Dr. Hayner, Miss Dunkel, Dr. Berg, and Dr. Mazak all were influential and inspirational because of their passion for their subjects and their pursuit of excellence. Interestingly enough, none of the education classes I took were especially well-taught, which inspired a counter-passion to teach well and to be passionate about the art and science of teaching.

But I digress, from the main point: the point of the educational process ought to be preparing children to be lifelong, eager, and delighted learners.


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Victor Wayne King was born in 1929. It seems like such a long time ago. The stock market had not yet crashed. Hitler was a two-bit rabble rouser. Running water for many families depended on how fast you carried the buckets, and luxury plumbing was a two-seater. My dad had two older brothers, an older sister, and a younger brother, and they grew up on the western banks of the Mississippi in Muskatine, Iowa.

During WW2 his two older brothers joined the Army, one a navigator flying ‘the hump’-from India over the Himalayas to China and back again, the other was one of the green troops assigned in December 1944 to the quiet part of the American line in the Ardennes Forest. Captured the first day of the Battle of the Bulge, my Uncle Archie was one of only two men who survived out of a truck convoy that was headed to the front lines. Initially declared MIA, my dad’s family learned Christmas week that he was a POW and not a KIA.

At some point during WW2 a pair of evangelist brothers from England traveled the United States and held a series of meetings in Muscatine. My dad, his sister, and younger brother were saved during one of those meetings. Though baptized at the local United Methodist church and attending faithfully while growing up, by his testimony he did not learn much of the Bible or how to live a Christian life.

My dad served in an Army communications company during the Korean War. The one lasting impact on him was a life-long loathing for coffee. While he was in the service, his dad sold the family farm and moved to the Toledo area with Uncle Archie. So when Daddy was discharged, he moved to Toledo as well. He joined the local Methodist church and became one of the social directors (my Dad, a social director!-end stunned amazement) of the single adults. A few years later a certain young lady began attending.

Margaret had grown up in England; she and her brothers were some of the children evacuated from London during the Blitz. She emigrated to the US to nanny for a doctor in Toledo.  Their first date was to a Louis Armstrong concert, and they married in 1958.

Six years later with the fourth kid on the way, my dad commented at work that he wished his church actually taught and believed what the Bible said. “Oh, man,” replied a co-worker, “you need to go to the church my sister attends. They’re crazy over there. They say everything that’s fun is wrong.” Knowing this man’s lifestyle, my dad figured that this was a pretty good endorsement.

I was born on September 5, 1964 and 3 days later my dad attended Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo for the first time. He returned to the hospital and told my mom that he had found the church for them to attend. This was, I believe, the most formative decision my dad ever made for our family. Mum was saved later the next spring, and each of us children were saved and baptized there. My dad has faithfully attended Emmanuel for 45 years, sitting under 6 different pastors.

Emmanuel began a Christian school in 1967, and my dad determined to enroll his children. As more of us came to school age, it became increasingly difficult to pay the bills. At one point he concluded that we would need to attend the local government school in junior high or high school. A family in our church learned this and paid our tuition so we could remain in ECS. I do not know who this family was but have prayed God’s blessing on them many times.

My dad left us a legacy of faithfulness. If the church doors were open, he was there. Not because it earned him points with God, but because he wanted to be there. He has remained steady through difficult times. When Mum died in 1984, we saw a man who remained faithful and did not become bitter.

I am very grateful for his dad’s legacy: each week when my dad prepares to attend his church, he knows that his seven children are also preparing their families to attend their churches. I want to pass that baton to my children.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

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Michael Hyatt wrote an essay entitled, “Sleep and Your Productivity” which reminded me of another aspect of rest: its affect on my Christian walk. Hyatt writes, “Of all the things that affect my energy and productivity, nothing is more important than getting a good night’s sleep.” I reworded this in my mind to this, “Of all the things that affect my Christian walk, rest is among the most important.” Or as Jim Berg often and wisely says, “I am as spiritual as I am rested.”

Tiredness in no way excuses my sinful responses, but it goes a looooong way toward opening the door to sin or weakening the walls against myself. I am my own worst enemy, and a tired me is a me-focused me. That quickly becomes irritability, short-temperedness, impatience, and just all around grouchiness. Sometimes the best thing I can do to protect my walk with the Lord and my family is just take a nap.

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Our President is having a rough go of it right now. I am sure that he must be feeling as though events are conspiring against him. His attempts to kickstart the economy two years ago have simply poured water in the fuel tank, so we spit and sputter along while he is trying to look suave behind the wheel. His international apology tours have resulted in a collective apoplexy at home, as the majority of Americans look askance at his tuckus while he bows to yet another tin-horn dictator.  His one great accomplishment-ramming through healthcare-was accepted by the American people with all the grace of a five year old having a worm shoved into her face.

And then the calamities outside his control begin to pile on. What’s with those Israelis anyway? What makes them think that they should defend their own country?

The topper, of course, has been the oil spill in the Gulf, and his reaction has been so utterly chaotic that he seems to be in real danger of flying apart at the seams. First he does nothing and says nothing…well, come to think of it, that’s not quite true. He played basketball multiple times, went golfing on several occasions, and talked about Lebron going to the Bulls. Hmmm, helpful month there. Meanwhile the oil just kept on gushing. And BP was trying to do something to stop it. (Maybe in a rather ham-handed fashion, but at least they were trying to do something.) And Louisiana was trying to prevent a complete ecological disaster, only to be stymied by Obama’s EPA.

“Oh dear,” thought he, “people are beginning to think something ought to be done. What shall I do? What shall I do?” -pause, wring hands, dither, wipe brow, dither some more- “Ah, I have it! A quick photo op while on the way to vacation. That’stheticket!” So he hops down to the coast for half an hour and then flies back to Chicago for yet another Presidential basketball game. Meanwhile the oil just kept on gushing.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” thought he a week or two later. “That hasn’t stopped the oil. And worse yet, it hasn’t stopped people from thinking that I ought to do something. How in the !@^%#! am I supposed to plug a hole that’s a mile below the surface. I’m just the President. {sniff, sniff} I can’t take the blame for this. It’ll stick like oil on a pelican.” -pause, wring hands, dither, wipe brow, dither some more- “Waitaminute, I am the President. Every reporter listens to me. If I blame everyone else, no one will have time to blame me!” Meanwhile, the oil just keeps on gushing. BP has been trying to do something to stop it, and the Gulf states have been stopped by Obama’s EPA from major efforts to prevent the oil from washing ashore.

So now we have him commenting on the BP CEO, “He wouldn’t be working for me!” And the wonderfully Presidential line “Whose ass I can kick.”

The picture that comes to mind is of the scrawny junior higher fresh out of elementary school. Almost every junior higher comes into secondary school overwhelmed-just like almost every President. Almost every junior higher buckles down and begins to figure out how to do the work required-just like almost every President. But there are some junior highers who dither and goof around until ‘junior high troubles’ come-just like some Presidents.

‘Junior high troubles’ are the first report cards (“Ahhhh, how did this happen? what will mom say? mydadwillkillme!!!) and ‘the big kids’, usually obnoxious 10th graders. The scrawny junior higher that comes to mind is the kid who reacts to the obnoxious 10th grader by talking tough, as long as the 10th graders are nowhere to be found, and flailing around at imaginary and not so imaginary foes. He usually ends up finding some even smaller kid to pick on.

Obama’s report card is revealing a miserable lack of competence and the voters are going to sweep out a lot of his Democrat cronies in the mid-term elections. He’s flailing around talking tough trying to convince everyone that he can’t be messed with. However, unlike our scrawny junior higher, Obama has the worst governmental sticks available to sic on BP and the public: bureaucracy, agencies, regulations, and his innumerable czars.

Having Clinton as President was like being ruled by a junior higher with raging hormones. Having Obama as President is like be ruled by a junior higher with a raging inferiority complex.

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George Grant in six succinct paragraphs explains once again what is classical Christian education & why it is needed. Clear, consise, and compelling as always.

The Habit of Thinking

The students in America’s earliest schools, academies, and colleges were educated according to the great traditions of the Christian and Classical heritage—beginning at the Latin School of Plymouth, established on this day in 1623. They were the beneficiaries of a rich legacy of art, music, and ideas that had not only trained the extraordinary minds of our Founding Fathers but had provoked the remarkable flowering of culture throughout Western Civilization. It was a pattern of academic discipleship that had hardly changed at all since the dawning days of the Reformation and Renaissance—a pattern though that has almost entirely vanished today.

Indeed, those first Americans were educated in a way that we can only dream of today despite all our nifty gadgets, gimmicks, and bright ideas. They were steeped in the ethos of Augustine, Dante, Plutarch, and Vasari. They were conversant in the ideas of Seneca, Ptolemy, Virgil, and Aristophanes. The notions of Athanasius, Chrysostom, Anselm, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Abelard, and Wyclif informed their thinking and shaped their worldview.

The now carelessly discarded traditional medieval Trivium—emphasizing the basic Classical scholastic categories of grammar, logic, and rhetoric—equipped them with the tools for a lifetime of learning: a working knowledge of the timetables of history, a background understanding of the great literary classics, a structural competency in Greek and Latin-based grammars, a familiarity with the sweep of art, music, and ideas, a grasp of research and writing skills, a worldview comprehension for math and science basics, a principle approach to current events, and an emphasis on a Christian life paradigm.

The methodologies of this kind of Christian and Classical learning adhered to the time-honored principles of creative learning: an emphasis on structural memorization, an exposure to the best of Christendom’s cultural ethos, a wide array of focused reading, an opportunity for disciplined presentations, a catechizing for orthopraxy as well as orthodoxy, and a broad experience honing the basic academic skills of listening, journaling, thinking, processing, integrating, extemporizing, and applying.

The object of this kind of Christian and Classical education was not merely the accumulation of knowledge. Instead it was to equip a whole new generation of leaders with the necessary tools to exercise discernment, discretion, and discipline in their lives and over their callings. Despite their meager resources, rough-hewn facilities, and down-to-earth frontier ethic, they maintained continuity with all that had given birth to the wisdom of the West.

It was the modern abandonment of these Christian and Classical standards a generation later that provoked G.K. Chesterton to remark, “The great intellectual tradition that comes down to us from the past was never interrupted or lost through such trifles as the sack of Rome, the triumph of Attila, or all the barbarian invasions of the Dark Ages. It was lost after…the coming of the marvels of technology, the establishment of universal education, and all the enlightenment of the modern world. And thus was lost—or impatiently snapped—the long thin delicate thread that had descended from distant antiquity; the thread of that unusual human hobby: the habit of thinking.”

I have read and heard him (and others) explain cCe numerous times and in a variety of ways. cCe does not make for soundbyte definitions. It needs to be explained, and explained well, and explained winsomely, and explained again and again. Grant accomplishes. I am reinvigorated every time I hear him speak.

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Al Mohler has a ‘must-read’ article on the ramifications  of Congress repealing “don’t ask; don’t tell”.

Joseph Bayly has a wise article asking if yoga and Christianity may be blended. He quotes the editor or Hinduism Today, “A Christian trying to adapt these practices will likely disrupt their own Christian beliefs.” Read on.

Russell Moore opens an important conversation about the proper Christian responsibility to environmentalism.

Because we believe in free markets, we’ve acted as though this means we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and habitats. But a laissez-faire view of government regulation of corporations is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he “believes in young people.”

I wholeheartedly agree that a part of the dominion mandate is care-taking of the environment. The question is how that should be accomplished. Christians have long allowed the whole discussion to be controlled by agenda-driven envirowackos, power-hungry politicians, and profit-seeking corporations. The problem with Moore’s comparison is that we don’t “believe the young people”, and we know what is happening in the sleeping bag-disgusting as it is there are three in there. We just don’t know yet how to stop it, to say nothing of fixing the actual problem.

So this is an important introduction to a needed conversation. There is a biblical solution; we must determine what it is.

Andrea Bocelli tells his “little story” about abortion:

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I have been hearing about the book Radical: taking back your faith from the American dream and came across another mention again Monday while reading Wrestling with an Angel, where Greg Lucas writes,

My life, once very radical, is now very comfortable. This is a good place to be—for a season. It is a very dangerous place to be—for a lifetime.

These aren’t words I want to hear, but they are words I need to hear. I want God to change me. I want to see God do great things and answer big prayers. I want my children to see God do God-things. But I like comfortable. And these things don’t usually add up to comfortable.

Before God culminates a stage of working by performing the memorable deliverance, He is doing the all-too-often thankless work of putting us in a pressure-saturated environment. We tend to look at the situation, the turmoil and beg to be delivered now.  God whispers, “Pay attention…there is something eternally beautiful going on here, much more than you could imagine, and I’m inviting you to be a part of it.”

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